Vulture Conservation Highlights on IVAD

Abu Dhabi, 01 September 2018 - Vultures are a vital component of the environments they inhabit. These avian scavengers clean up carcasses and organic waste in the environment, providing critically important ecosystem services. Unfortunately, over the years vulture populations have drastically declined and some of the species face extinction. The population declines have mainly occurred due to direct and indirect poisoning, persecution, electrocution and collision, and reduced food availability.  International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) offers an opportunity to spread awareness on the need to conserve vultures and to highlight vulture conservation initiatives such as those led or supported by the CMS Raptors MOU.

The Raptors MOU works to promote coordinated international conservation actions for vultures. At their second meeting in 2015, the MOU Signatories added twelve vulture species to the Raptors MOU Annex 1: Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis), Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus), Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus), Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres), Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppelli), and Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos).  

At the 12th session of the CMS Conference of the Parties (COP12) in 2017, ten vulture species were added in CMS Appendix I. CMS Appendix I comprises migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range. The Raptors MOU Coordinating Unit played an important role in facilitating development of the vulture listing proposals.

In addition, Raptors MOU Coordinating Unit led the development of the Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures(Vulture MsAP) in 2015-2017. The Vulture MsAP aims to rapidly halt current population declines in populations of 15 Old World vulture species. The action plan was adopted at CMS COP12, and the development of an implementation plan is underway. However, funds are now urgently needed to enable the establishment of the international coordinating structure envisaged in the Vulture MsAP, and to implement the most essential actions in the plan.

A key component of the Vulture MsAP is the Cinereous VultureFlyway Action Plan (CVFAP), which aims to restore the species to its original geographic range with all populations in a favorable conservation status. Another important component of the Vulture MsAP is the Egyptian VultureFlyway Action Plan (EVFAP), seeking to improve the conservation status of the Egyptian Vulture populations in the Balkans and Central Asia. Both flyway action plans were developed with support and guidance from the Raptors MOU Coordinating Unit. In addition, the Coordinating Unit is one of the partners of the EU funded flyway conservation project for the Egyptian Vulture titled ‘Urgent Actions to Strengthen the Balkan Population of the Egyptian Vulture and Secure Its Flyway’ that runs until 2022. This project also contributes to the implementation of the Vulture MsAP.

A lot is yet to be done, as the threats the vultures face are severe and require coordinated international conservation actions. The Raptors MOU Coordinating Unit encourages all stakeholders to join concerted efforts in conserving African-Eurasian migratory vultures.

Last updated on 02 September 2018